Yesterday, while looking for birds, I stumbled across a huge patch of chanterelles. They were clearly chanterelles - as you can see from these pictures. I took a spore print and looked at them under magnification. I didn't have a measuring eyepiece here so I can't give the size in microns but the shape of the spores was the same as that shown online for chanterelles - smooth oval with a small 'tooth' on one end.
|Spores of Cayman Chanterelle. 100X. No oil!|
There are a few distinct differences between these chanterelles and those in the PNW. Firstly, there are no conifers around here. They are growing under low dry forest trees and sea-grape. Secondly, they are a vivid sockeye pink and bright, apricot orange rather than the subtle egg yellow and soft pinks of our varieties. The closest match I can find is Cantharellus Cinnabarinus which is reported to grow in Eastern Hardwood forests under beech, aspen and hickory. They are supposed have caps of 1-5cm while mine grow a few cm larger than that range.
Since I was so sure it was some kind of chanterelle and I read online that some local restauranteurs had eaten them, I ate one last night and had no ill effects 24 hours later. I hope to collect some more to eat later.
I asked a few locals about the mushrooms. Their responses showed that they know nothing about them, as follows:
"I was told you can't eat the brightly colored mushrooms because they are the poisonous ones."
"It is like this, if animals and chickens eat them, then they are good for us to eat but if these mushrooms are in the forest and not being eaten, they are probably not good to eat."
"Mushrooms? Did you say MUSHROOMS? In the FOREST?"
"No, we don't have mushrooms here except the white ones in the Food Mart. I don't even eat those."
PS. Please excuse my mushroom spore slide. It was made on a piece of plastic cut from a catalog lid because I left my microscope slides and immersion oil at home!